Times Sports Editor
The Northview/Owen Valley football rivalry is set for the 2009 edition this evening with the Knights also celebrating Homecoming.
The Knights are likely to be seeking a measure of revenge against a reeling Owen Valley team that has lost four straight games for the first time since 1997. Northview meanwhile is marching towards its first goal of re-claiming the WIC championship and is looking to improve to 3-0 in the conference.
Intensity has been good at practice throughout the week and Northview coach George Gettle has liked what he has seen in his team's preparations.
"We've had a really good week of practice and I hope that's a sign of things that are coming. It seems that practices, as we've gone through the season, have gotten a bit better each time," Gettle said. "I thought this week that the kids have really been focused and it seems like they have a really good grasp of what we're trying to do (Friday) night. It has really set the tone for a real positive week heading into Homecoming."
The Knights are fresh off dealing Sullivan a 62-30 defeat during the Arrows' Homecoming and Gettle has made sure his team is aware that they shouldn't allow that to happen at Northview this evening.
"We talked about getting beat by Owen Valley last year and that's not something we're real proud of, but anytime a team beats us it's our job to get back on the winning side of things," Gettle said. "We're looking forward to a tough game, a conference game. We've had some good games with Owen Valley and our goal is to just go 1-0 tonight and 3-0 in the conference."
The Knights' strength this season has been its offense, which has averaged nearly 45 ppg. as the team has started 3-1 overall.
Gettle was quick to note that he expects to put plenty of points on the board and gave credit to the experience his skill players have in working together.
"The nice thing is we have a group of kids who have already played a lot of football for me even though some of them are just juniors. Having a kid that has played quarterback for me for three years and is just a junior (Trent Lancaster) and (Zac) Niehaus and Andrew (Butts), Drake (Stevenson) and JB (Jon Bradshaw), these kids at the skill positions have all played for me so it's been real easy to pick up from last year," Gettle said. "I expected our offense to score a lot of points this year and in 2006 we led the state in scoring. I already told the kids that, that is what I'm expecting this year and I'm talking about the entire state, every team, more points than anybody. So far we're second in 4A and 11th overall and we want to keep climbing up."
Lancaster is ninth in the state in passing yards per game at 212 per game with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. Perhaps the strength of the team has been the balance of the passing game as three different receivers have 17 or more receptions.
Niehaus has caught 21 passes for 231 yards with Stevenson hauling in 18 passes for 310 yards and Bradshaw grabbing 17 for 175 yards with four scores and five two-point conversions.
On the ground, Lancaster also leads the way with 408 yards followed by Damon Hyatt, who has averaged almost six yards per carry and has 268 yards this season with six touchdowns.
Despite the 0-4 record, the Northview coaching staff isn't taking Owen Valley lightly after losing last year and seeing game film this year.
"It's really strange. As a coaching staff, we thought that Owen Valley would get off to a different start. Last year they played a lot of sophomore linemen and we thought that their offensive and defensive lines were pretty good. So we can't quite put our finger on what led to this 0-4 start, but we expect (Owen Valley) to come up here expecting to win and doing their best to play us tough," Gettle said.
The Patriots are relying on a new quarterback in junior Brennan Torrence, who has thrown 59 times and completed 23 for 242 yards. On the ground, junior Johnathan Hershberger takes over following the graduation of his brother Andrew. Hershberger has run for 189 yards and a score to this point. Gryfen Brinson is the leading receiver with 10 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown.
Gettle pointed out that his team's offensive success is based on experience and perhaps the Patriots are still finding their way in that regard.
"Maybe it's their skill guys that are new and trying to learn, but just some of their losses this year have been troublesome to us because we feel like their coaches, (the 0-4 start) is totally unexpected," Gettle said. "This is one of those game where you're kind of leery because they're 0-4 and I'd never have dreamed as a coach that we'd be playing an 0-4 Owen Valley team. I think they will be playing with a chip on their shoulders."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Northview High School.